By Bre Hart, ’19
As the 2016-17 school year is nearing its end, the word senioritis has become more popular in the halls of UAHS.
Seniors who have completed the required 21 credits to graduate no longer see the need to pay attention in class. Motivation has dropped and students are struggling to stay focused.Senior Boyd Landis has struggled with the idea of senioritis throughout the course of this school year.
“It’s like not even funny how hard it is to tell myself, ‘hey you need to finish this work,’” Landis said.
The term senioritis is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “an ebbing of motivation and effort by school seniors as evidenced by tardiness, absences and lower grades.”
In simpler terms, senioritis is the lack of and decline in motivation
Landis finds it a daily chore to pay attention in class and get the work done that he needs to keep his grades up.
“The only thing that’s keeping me going is the thought that I’ve made it this far and I need to just finish it through,” Landis said.
UAHS graduate Nick Evans spent his final year of high school procrastinating against doing work and getting assignments turned in on time.
“My biggest regret was having the need to catch up,” Evans said. “There were some nights where I’d be sitting at home, doing nothing but watching TV.”
Some students don’t find it a daily struggle to stay motivated and get work done.
“I understand people for wanting to relax. I don’t judge them for being that way,” senior Lexi Murray said. “I just cannot bring myself to give up.”
With some seniors unable to give their full attention in class, teachers are feeling the pressure to keep their students attentive and engaged.
Government teacher Tiffany Smith feels as though students who don’t work hard affect the way that she teaches her classes.
“I feel like I can’t be as fun or expect a certain activity to go as well. Most of the things I do in class, I need them to participate,” Smith said. “I wouldn’t even say it’s that challenging of a task. In order for it to be fun, or to get my point across, they [students] have to participate.”
Landis believes that the work ethic of others around him impacts his motivation to get work done.
“If one person starts saying ‘oh I’m not gonna do that.’ Then oh yeah, I’m not gonna be doing this,” Landis said.
Another factor in seniors’ falling motivation is the proximity of graduation and the perceived freedom it will allow.
“It’s…the idea that everything is ending. You have to make new beginnings, and you’re just getting so nervous and caught up in that,” Landis said.
Reflecting on his high school years, Evans felt himself falling into the pattern of not trying his hardest on his work.
“Freshman year I feel like I hit high school with high motivation. I was ready to take on these next four years. It was like a new start for me,” Evans said. “[But once] senior year hit, so did senioritis. I just feel like I lost myself as a person.”
Smith doesn’t spend her time chasing after the students who won’t turn in their homework assignments.
“I’m not gonna chase after you. If you don’t wanna turn in that assignment, that’s on you,” Smith said.
Throughout the course of each year, teachers feel the pressure to make class engaging and interesting.
“I would say, as a teacher, I feel that pressure all the time,” Smith said. “I’m competing against cell phones, twitter, snapchat; so I have a lot to live up to. And computer games. Holy cow.”
On top of competing for student’s attention, teachers who have joint junior-senior classes have to deal with their juniors being influenced by unmotivated seniors.
“The seniors with senioritis definitely rubs off on the juniors,” Smith said. “They don’t understand that they aren’t seniors. They cannot compare themselves to seniors.”
Murray sees how hard it is for teachers to try to control their students who goof off in class.
“It’s hard in a class where you’re trying to take a test and everyone is talking,” Murray said. “The teacher doesn’t even say anything because they know they’re gonna continue.”
For the teachers that can get their seniors to behave, it’s a struggle to keep them motivated.
Smith has made a system for herself and her students in an attempt to keep them engaged and motivated.
“First, I try to take a holistic approach and try to make my class and activities more engaging,” Smith said. “If that doesn’t work, then I try to engage them individually. Ask them about things outside of class. Try to care about their lives. Try to bring up an example they can relate to. Or encourage them of why they shouldn’t have senioritis.”
In the end, if her attempts to motivate a student don’t work, then Smith doesn’t try to push her students any further.
“Lastly, [I] just give up. Let ‘em be. I don’t have enough energy,” Smith said.
Figuring out how to balance trying to help students and letting them make their decisions is a problem for many teachers at UAHS.
“For my students who claim they have it [senioritis], but are still fun and respectful in class and somewhat care about their grades,” Smith said. “Even if that’s not as excellent of work as they normally are, I’ll take it, that’s for dang sure.”
Getting Good Grades
While it’s fun for some students to not do homework and hangout with friends, Murray pushes herself to continue working hard.
“I care a lot about things. I just make myself do all my homework. After oral [commentary] is over, and my research paper for capstone, I’ll kinda be done at that point,” Murray said. “I’ll definitely be at the point where I’m ready to leave. [But] I wanna finish strong.”
For other students, grades aren’t as important as experiences in high school.
Evans found himself avoiding homework to be with friends and make memories throughout his final days at UAHS.
“Open study hall is supposed to be something that you use for capstone and related activities,” Evans said. “But I found myself not doing anything capstone. I was sleeping in during open first, leaving early during open eighth and going to get food.”
With slacking off, Evans regularly found himself behind on work and homework.
“I wasn’t thinking about college at that time. I regret that,” Evans said. “Towards the end, senioritis got the worst. I wouldn’t turn things in just for the LOLs.”
Regrets or Rewards?
Some seniors graduate with outstanding grades, friends and an exact plan of what they want to do in life.
“I tell myself ‘hey, have a plan going in.’ So you don’t screw yourself.’” Landis said.
Planning out life is exactly what some seniors need to keep going. Murray and her friends do just that.
“A lot of my friends are the type of people who take one step at a time. They’re like ‘gotta finish today.’ That’s how I am. I have had a couple friends who plan for the date that they stop trying.” Murray said. “My friends are like ‘Let’s succeed because we want to.’”
Senioritis may cause some to slack off and not do anything. For others, trying just becomes harder. Whether there are regrets or rewards, graduation is near.
“There are definitely times where I really don’t want to,” Murray said. “But I know in the end, the reward will be satisfying.”